The parties in the criminal case against businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome have filed written submissions at the Court of Appeal for and against his acquittal.
Curtail Woyome’s freedom: A-G demands
The court’s registry is yet to fix a date for the delivery of judgement on the appeal.
While the state is calling on the court to quash a High Court judgement which freed Woyome from any wrongdoing in the GH¢51.2 million, counsel for Woyome is praying the court to dismiss the state’s appeal.
A 72-page submission filed by the prosecution is asking the Court of Appeal to curtail Woyome’s freedom and imprison him accordingly on the grounds that the trial judge erred in law in acquitting and discharging the businessman of defrauding by false pretences and causing financial loss to the state.
But the defence team is of the view that the state failed to concretely justify why the March 12, 2015 High Court judgement should be overturned.
The state is arguing that the trial judge, Mr Justice John Ajet-Nasam, who has been named in the Anas judicial scandal, erred in law when he said the prosecution failed woefully to establish a prima facie against Woyome when he had, during the trial, established a prima facie case against him and called on him to open his defence.
The court, in its March 12, 2015 judgement, had held that the prosecution had twisted facts when it stated that there had been a misrepresentation, leading to the payment of GH¢51.2 million to Woyome, but the prosecution argued that “after calling the respondent to open his defence and progressing to the end of the trial, there was no legal basis for the trial judge to now make such pronouncements”.
“This is particularly so when the statements were made without reference to any reasonably probable explanation by the respondent to counter the evidence led by the prosecution,” it added.
According to the prosecution, the personalities the trial judge held should have been called by the prosecution were immaterial to the case because officers from their various departments had testified.
“All these personalities referred to by the judge had nothing useful to add to what the prosecution witnesses who were called had already said. The various roles played by these personalities were not in their personal but official capacities,” the written submission from the prosecution, signed by the acting Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mrs Yvonne A. Obuobisa, said.
The said personalities are Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu, a former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice; Mr Ebo Barton-Odro, a former Deputy Attorney-General; Mr Paul Asimenu, then Head of the Legal Department of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP); Mr Magnus Rex Danquah of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of CAN 2008, and Samuel Nerquaye Tetteh, a Chief State Attorney, who advised the state to pay Woyome the amount.
The prosecution jabbed Mr Justice Ajet-Nasam for failing to analyse the evidence led by the prosecution witnesses and rather resorting to bias, conclusion and generalisation without any legal basis.
It said the testimonies from the prosecution witnesses were not analysed by the trial judge.
“Rather, he picked on prosecution witnesses and ridiculed their responses under cross-examination and ended up making sweeping statements to the effect that the prosecution witnesses had contradicted themselves without showing any of the said contradictions.
“It is significant to note that the only evidence the judge referred to from prosecution witnesses was their evidence under cross-examination,” it said.
According to the prosecution, it was able to lead evidence to prove that Woyome falsely represented that he had engineered an amount of 1.1 billion euros from Bank of Austria through financial engineering but the trial judge, for no apparent reason, overlooked that.
It highlighted the record of proceedings, made references to documents tendered in court and held that “the above is a pointer to the effect that the respondent was not awarded any contract to do any financial engineering on behalf of the government in respect of any company or on its own behalf and he knew this as a matter of fact”.
“The defendant had no consortium which put in a bid, let alone win the bid for the construction of the stadia for CAN 2008, as claimed by him,” it said.
The state said Woyome did not lead any credible defence and “it is, therefore, not surprising that the trial judge did not consider his defence at all in his judgement. This is because there was no evidence worthy of consideration by the judge”.
Correct miscarriage of justice
The prosecution, accordingly, prayed the Court of Appeal to correct what it termed a miscarriage of justice.
“The correct principles of our criminal jurisprudence ought to be upheld. It is in this regard that we urge this court to set aside the judgement of the trial court acquitting and discharging the respondent and convict and sentence him appropriately in respect of both counts of defrauding by false pretences and causing financial loss to the state,” it added.
The written submission filed on Woyome’s behalf by his lawyer, Mr Ken Stephen Anku, said the fact that Woyome was called upon to open his defence did not mean the state had proved his guilt to warrant his conviction.
The defence noted that there was no evidence against Woyome for a “reasonable tribunal” to convict him on and, for that reason, Mr Justice Ajet-Nasam should not have invited Woyome to open his defence.
It said Woyome played an integral part in the procurement process and argued that he was paid based on orders from the Commercial Court.
The defence also reiterated the trial court’s position that Mrs Mould-Iddrisu and other witnesses should have been called because they played roles leading up to the payment of the money to Woyome.
According to the defence, the failure of the prosecution to call the said material witnesses showed a “lack of transparency on the part of the prosecution”.
“It is submitted that the prosecution failed to call material witnesses and this failure in the circumstances must inure to the benefit of Alfred Woyome.
“The prosecution cannot now be heard to say that the decision of the learned judge on the point was wrong in law,” it said.
It also submitted that there was no bias assessment of the prosecution’s evidence on the part of the judge, as stated by the prosecution.
“The learned judge reviewed the evidence of the witnesses called by the prosecution and came to the conclusion that there was no compelling evidence to convict the respondent on the charges preferred against him,” the defence noted.
Woyome was acquitted and discharged by Mr Justice Ajet-Nasam on March 12, 2015 after the court held he had not put in fraudulent claims to acquire the GH¢51.2 million, but the state filed a notice of appeal the following day challenging the court’s decision.
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